Spirituality in Business


Most business people here, it seems are extremely uncomfortable using the word “spirituality” in the work environment,  thinking that it means “religion” which can invoke fears of dogmatism and proselytizing in the workplace It doesn’t have to mean that at all, in fact.

Whilst religion is an important part of many people’s lives, and should be considered in dealing with co-workers and employees, spirituality in the broader sense is more about the human spirit which embodies love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, a sense of harmony with our universe and moves toward a transcendent reality (whatever name we give it).

Even colleagues who are highly evolved emotionally and spiritually tell us we should never mention ‘spirituality’! We should use the words :  Intuition. Creativity. Right-brained thinking.  Definitely not ‘consciousness’ – and that earlier mention of ‘transcendent reality’ – well, how many stopped reading instantly they read those words?

My own research suggests that it is more the fear of what other people will think of those words than people’s actual thoughts about them!


A search for “Spirituality in Business” brought me to this excellent article by Corinne McLaughlin, co-author of Spiritual Politics and Executive Director of The Center for Visionary Leadership in Washington, DC and San Francisco.

She says “People at all levels in the corporate hierarchy increasingly want to nourish their spirit and creativity. When employees are encouraged to express their creativity, the result is a more fulfilled and sustained workforce. Happy people work harder and are more likely to stay at their jobs. A study of business performance by the highly respected Wilson Learning Company found that 39% of the variability in corporate performance is attributable to the personal satisfaction of the staff.  Spirituality was cited as the second most important factor in personal happiness (after health) by the majority of Americans questioned in a USA Weekend poll, with 47% saying that spirituality was the most important element of their happiness.

Across the country, people increasingly want to bring a greater sense of meaning and purpose into their work life.  They want their work to reflect their personal mission in life.  Many companies are finding the most effective way to bring spiritual values into the workplace is to clarify the company’s vision and mission, and to align it with a higher purpose and deeper commitment to service to both customers and community.”

She also points out that a proliferation of book titles*, reflects a growing movement to bring spiritual values into the workplace. Who hasn’t read Stephen Covey’s books and at least attempted his win-win approach?

Interestingly, 35 years ago when I worked at a large life insurance and pensions company  the Sales Director handed out copies of Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman in the World” to the sales team,  a particularly spiritual perspective on sales and motivation that is an absolute classic. Some were inspired and took it to heart, increasing their personal self-worth and sales a hundred-fold, as the book suggests.

This seems to suggest that there are far more spiritual people out there than care to admit it! Will they dare to ‘come out of the closet’?

Many businesses here  have gone a long way towards integrating personal values of honesty and integrity into their business models. A few have started to think globally and take on social responsibility for the environment, serve the community or helping to create a better world.

Call it what you like – we are living in a different world and after Enron, the banking crisis and all the other unethical issues which have left business in the state it is in, it is time for another way of thinking and being.

Recommended reading:

The Corporate Mystic: A Guidebook for Visionaries with Their Feet on the Ground  by Gay Hendricks

Journey From Head to Heart: Living and Working Authentically  by Nancy Oelklaus

Redefining the Corporate Soul by Alan Cox,

Spirituality in Business: Theory, Practice, and Future Directions by Jerry Biberman and Len Tischler

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Selling with Integrity by Sharon Drew Morgan

And my all time favourite “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino